China on Thursday said it will speed up modernisation of military and build itself into a "maritime power", an announcement which may cause anxiety in India and some other neighbours of the Communist giant.
Invoking Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong's military strategic theories, which were stated to be one of the successes of Chinese revolution, President Hu Jintao told the once-in-a-decade leadership Party Congress here that China will speed up modernisation of its 2.3 million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA), the world's largest standing army.
"To modernise the national defence and the armed forces we must follow Mao Zedong's military thinking, (his successor) Deng Xiaoping's thinking in enhancing military capabilities," Hu, who will be stepping down as President and General Secretary of the ruling CPC soon, told the party conference.
He said China should implement the military strategy of active defence, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age.
Hu also called for more efforts to build China into a maritime power. "We should enhance our capacity for exploiting marine resources, resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power," he said.
Besides increasing its defence budget to $100 billion this year, China has acquired its first aircraft carrier. It also launched two versions of stealth bombers, becoming the second country to do so after the US. Its officials also claimed to have developed a whole range of missiles, including a new ICBM which could hit targets 14000 km away, besides a long range carrier killer missile.
The rapid modernisation of Chinese military is taking place in the midst of the US policy of focusing on Asia- Pacific by deploying large assets in the region where China is locked in maritime disputes with a host neighbours, including Japan. In his report to Party Congress, Hu also said China will strive to basically complete military mechanisation and make major progress in full military IT application by 2020.
"We should unswervingly pursue full IT application as the goal in achieving military modernisation and step up this effort," Hu said at the meet attended by over 2,200 delegates.
China should strengthen the development of new-and-high-technology weapons and equipment, speed up the complete development of modern logistics, train a new type of high- caliber military personnel in large numbers, intensively carry out military training under computerised conditions, and enhance integrated combat capability based on extensive IT application, Hu said.
He said China should implement the military strategy of active defence for the new period, and enhance military strategic guidance as the times so require. "We should attach great importance to maritime, space and cyberspace security. We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age," he said.
He also said the Communist Party should retain total control over the Chinese armed forces. "We must unwaveringly adhere to the principle of the Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces and continue to educate them in the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics," he said.
Hu emphasised that China pursues a national defence policy that is defensive in nature. "Our endeavours to strengthen national defence aim to safeguard China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and ensure its peaceful development."